Part IV – Writing Your Memoir

Posted in Excerpts at 10:46 am by admin

Reaction from my friends

Some of my friends loved the story and found it interesting and moving.  Some could not get themselves to say a word about it, positive or negative.  Some found it very disturbing, and said they never could have shared so much of their life with strangers. And in a few instances I sensed that they were hurt that I had not shared my life’s experiences with them. I understand their feelings, but it may be difficult for them to understand that I felt no need to tell them my stories. I was initially surprised that my children and others found my life unusual and interesting.  If my friends had asked about my life in Brazil, I would have been happy to answer their questions and share my experiences.

 Reaction from my readers

Before my book was printed, I gave my manuscript to over forty different people.  Most of them were book club members, who did not know anything about me.  I gave them a sheet with an evaluation chart with a place to comment on their reaction to Divine Betrayal.  This was done anonymously, and the results were of great value to me.

The evaluation chart was on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest).  The average score was 8.  The range went from 3 to 10.  All of the suggestions and comments were extremely valuable for me, and I strongly recommend that, if possible, you do this kind of research when writing a memoir.

Some of the negative comments had to do with questioning the validity of my experiences.  A few wondered how I could remember every detail.  One person felt threatened and disagreed with my religious experience.  Some simply said it was not their kind of book.  It is interesting to note that one of my favorite books is a bestseller from Oprah’s book club list–The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Her book is a novel, not a memoir, but it inspired me to write my memoir.  When I mentioned this to an agent, she said she wanted nothing to do with my book, because she hated The Poisonwood Bible.  It is impossible to please everyone, and this is an important fact to remember when writing a memoir.  Write your story as it happened, from your experience, without trying to please the readers or an editor.

The positive comments from the readers were overwhelming. They gave me the assurance to continue with my chosen course-to publish my story.  Most of all, many readers said that my experience was helpful to them, and my book was not only entertaining, but inspirational.  Some felt it made a positive impact on their lives. 


Once the decision was made to go ahead and publish, my husband Bill and I embarked as partners on the journey to get Divine Betrayal published.  The hurdles seemed insurmountable. Our first task was trying to find an agent.  It is impossible to go directly to a publisher with your manuscript; you must first find an agent to represent you.  After sending over fifty query letters and book proposals to agents, we decided to publish independently.  Some of the comments from agents were “Sorry, but unless you are a famous person, there is no market,” or, “The memoir market is overrun and publishers will not accept any unknown writers,” or “I loved your story. I laughed and cried and am sorry that I cannot sell it at this time.”  Perversely, these comments actually encouraged us and we felt we had a story that needed to be told.

One Response to “Part IV – Writing Your Memoir”

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